How to Work Around Club Carlson Points Availability Issues

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For the last couple of years I have been “cheating” on my main hotel programs a little bit with the younger Club Carlson program.  In 2012 they were handing out lots of points via huge promotions like they were candy on Halloween, and I had my points Trick or Treat bag ready.  Then they introduced their co-branded credit card, the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature, and I jumped on that opportunity as well.  Not only did the credit card give us another 85,000 points after hitting the spending requirement, but it also introduced one of my very favorite credit card perks – the last award night free.  For better or worse many of our trips are short, so that means we essentially get a “Buy One Get One” free benefit on two night Club Carlson award stays.

Club Carlson states they have no black-out dates for standard room availability:

So, hundreds of thousands of easy points, a lucrative credit card sign-up offer, last award night free benefit, and more.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Club Carlson has a policy similar to brands like Hyatt and Starwood where if a standard room is available for sale, it should be available to book with points.  Most of the time this isn’t a problem, however I have seen a few popular properties that will have a standard room for sale, but yet they do not have a standard room available for a points redemption.  Obviously programs can set whatever rules they want, but if you say no blackout dates, then you better mean it.

Club Carlson Availability

The terms go on to explain that additional room types (non-standard) may be available as award stays on a limited basis, but vary by hotel, are subject to availability and additional terms and restrictions, including blackout dates may apply.  So, a property is following the rules even if non-standard rooms are for sale but not points redemptions, but not if standard rooms are available for sale but not bookable with points.

Not all properties seem to embrace the no-blackout dates policy:

One popular common offender is the Radisson Martinique on Broadway that is in New York City and goes for 50,000 points per night for a standard room.  You have to look at their website to see how they define standard rooms, and then see what room types they are selling when the website says there is no standard room availability.  Their non-standard rooms are Executive Rooms, Martinique Club Level, Executive Suites, and Penthouse Suites.  Standard rooms may have two double beds, a queen bed, or a king bed.  I see many dates where a standard room appears to be available for sale, and yet there is no points availability.

ClubCarlsonNewYork

This property has had this issue before, but recently had gotten better, only to now appear to have returned to showing no points availability on many dates.  I randomly picked October 16th as an example date.  The hotel shows no points availability, but is selling a classic guest room for $335.75.

ClubCarlsonNewYork2They are also offering basic rooms with double beds, a queen bed, or a king bed on cash and points redemptions for 15,000 points + $275.45 each.  Given all of that, it doesn’t appear that the hotel is out of standard rooms that night, they just aren’t offering rooms for 50,000 points.  It could be due to a computer glitch.  It could be due to human error.  Or, it could be due to a strategic decision that they can make more money if they fudge the points availability.  I don’t know which one is the case, but regardless of the cause, the solution is the same.

ClubCarlsonNewYork3

What to do if you have trouble booking a property that has standard rooms for sale:

If this situation happens to you at either this hotel or another property, just reach out to the property directly via phone or email for assistance.  The email address is often located on their individual property website under their “contact us” tab.  If I had to contact them, I would say I am trying to redeem points on October 16th and even though there are standard rooms for sale, the computer isn’t letting me book with points.  I would then politely ask for their help in making the reservation.  I just did this via email with a Club Carlson property in Paris and they responded and opened up the room within 24 hours.  I was then able to book online without a problem.  I have read many successful reports of the same type of interaction with this New York property.

I do not think it is acceptable for this to be an ongoing problem as most of the traveling public will assume that the computer showing no availability means there is no availability.  This is the sort of nonsense that makes people think that “points are worthless”.  However, I can’t force Club Carlson or these properties to fix whatever the problem is, but I can inform you all on how to work around the issue in the meantime.  If you don’t have success with the individual property, then you can also reach out to the Club Carlson program itself for assistance, though I think most of the time working with the property will do the trick.

I really like the way the Club Carlson program works, so I want them to tie up all these loose ends and continue to be one of the most lucrative programs out there.  That said, I wouldn’t recommend sitting on all the points you might have racked up in 2012.  I would work on putting those points to good use just as my family has been doing.

Have you experienced availability issues with Club Carlson?  Were you able to work with the property as I did to use your points?

 

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links. 

Pingbacks

  1. […] Hello to a fellow San Diegan! I read recently on one of the major travel blogs (mommypoints) that you can often book club carlson hotels with points by calling the hotel directly, even if availability with points doesn't show up online. If standard rooms are available, you should be able to book them with points. She even cited Radisson Martinique as an example of this strategy (contacting the hotel directly) working. http://mommypoints.boardingarea.com/…bility-issues/ […]

Comments

  1. If it’s really a strategic issue as you posit (and I absolutely believe it is) then it might make sense to at least keep the CC corporate people informed when it comes up so they can “work with” individually troublesome properties. If always going directly through the property, this feedback (which is the only way to fix the problem for good) has to happen.

  2. Mwwalk, so sorry to hear you have had this problem for a year! Always possible the hotel was really sold out of standard rooms some date, but certainly worth a second look to be sure.
    Andrew, totally agree if you have the time and willingness to do that.

  3. The Radisson Blu Chicago seems to have this problem, too. I haven’t called, because we didn’t actually need to book the hotel, I was just searching to see what kind of use I could get out of my husband’s Carlson points. I did look it up on flyertalk and other people have noticed the same problem, but also some one reported having success with your approach. The just called and said they wanted to book the room with points, but weren’t able to on the website and the hotel booked the room on points for them.

  4. So glad that you posted this. I actually looked at this property for an upcoming trip to New York and noticed that there was no availability so booked with the Intercontinental New York Times Square (3 nights) since I had plenty of points with that program. Haven’t been to New York in a long time so I hope I won’t be disappointed with that choice. Anybody with any experience there, let me hear it. Thanks for the pointers on the CC points though. I will use that in the future. 🙂

  5. Hyatt is even worse on this issue. I had similar problems with Hyatt regency Boston, Hyatt recency hakone, and Hyatt key west resort. They all had basic rooms showing for sell, but not available for point redemption. I ended up calling and sovled the problem, but it’s a shame for them to make this kinds of “strategic lies”.

  6. Kindly explain step by step how you booked award stay with Paris property. I need to book a room for three people in Tokyo around mid-February. I will get the second night free–will the system automatically award you the free night? I also need to book a room for three people in Sydney and Melbourne a a couple nights later. It will enable me to book more rooms in Santiago and Buenos Aires in April as well, but I am not sure if there is a hotel available in Buenos Aires or not. Thanks for your assistance.

  7. Globetrotter, I emailed the property with the address found on their website and told them I wanted to stay on X date, but that the system wasn’t showing award availability in standard rooms even though it looked like some were for sale. I asked for their help in making the reservation. They then simply opened inventory available online and told me via email. I went online and made the reservation as normal with the second night free on points automatically thanks to the credit card.

    • Zozeppelin, I linked to the FT thread and did the process myself, so not sure what you mean, but thanks for commenting and reading!

  8. I just recently was able to book the NYC Martinique property on of all dates 11/27 with points. I had been checking periodically for about 6 months and finally saw the window open up so I jumped, I couldn’t be more thrilled as we’ll be there to watch the balloons for the Macy’s parade be inflated as well as be 2 blocks from the parade route and a reliable bathroom!

  9. Thanks for the great post MP! I’ve run into this issue at the Radisson Blu Phuket for my upcoming honeymoon. Quick question, how does CC approach the no-blackout policy at hotels whose lowest room level is delux? It appears this is the case in Phuket, where their standard room (lowest level) is a delux room. Any suggestions?

  10. ditto on Radisson Blu Chicago- they differentiate from ‘standard’ room based on facing the park or other side, or little details like that. i agree that this is really a downside because in my case, i had originally really wanted to book the R Blue Chicago, but after seeing no availability due to this nonsense, I had very limited time and just booked elsewhere. Had I known, I might have called- but sometimes you can’t. Then again, if you don’t know, you go somewhere else. It would be MUCH easier for the program to get it right in the first place. After all, if I like the Chicago hotel, I will come back on cash stays. Radisson loses customers with this way.

  11. I called today to book a room that is available for sale on the website but not available using points. The representative said there are room for sale but not for point redemption. I mentioned the no blackout dates and he still said the same thing and I cannot use points to book anyway. What do you think about this situation?
    The property is the Radisson Martinique on Broadway also.

  12. Following up on the blackout-date issue — I just spoke with Denise, the reservations manager at the Radisson Martinique, about an issue I was having changing the dates of an award booking. The dates I was requesting to switch to showed rooms available in all categories, but again no points availability. I explained my confusion that available standard rooms were not bookable with points, but she explained that points redemptions are nevertheless capacity controlled, but technically there are not predetermined blackout-dates. She checked and confirmed the same with Tara, the revenue manager. According to Denise, once that capacity-controlled number of points bookings is reached, she has no individual discretion to make an exception. I suspect that they are selectively enforcing this on high revenue-generating weekends; she did say that they expected to be sold out that weekend. Frustrating! I am tempted to get corporate involved but am unsure what can be done at this point.

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